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German Slang
the real German
Very Peculiar: Denglisch!
Ich hab mir die Datei downgeloaded* /
I downloaded the file.
Denglisch verbs can be used as nouns as well
and are then capitalised as per usual in German:
Das Einchecken* am Flughafen nervt!
The check-in at the airport is nerve-racking!
The most prominent example for a Denglisch adjective in idiomatic German is cool*,
which means ‘hip’, ‘in’, ‘great’ etc., but never
physically cold! When used in German it’s
inf lected like any German adjective, including the comparative and superlative forms.
As for downloaden*:
The first approach follows the example
of the correct German
which is the past
participle of the
separable verb runterladen (= ich lade die Datei
The second approach
recognises that you
cannot actually separate the English word like
that and therefore the
past participle for
verbs is formed.
Das war ‘n absolut cooles* Event*!
That was an absolutely cool event! [big
events only, like a rock concert, the Queen visiting ...]
cooler* als das coolste* Gefährt
cooler than the coolest vehicle
The opposite exists as well: uncool*, whereby
the un- is pronounced like traditional Ger man! More Denglisch adjectives are for example: over-/underdressed*, tricky*, trendy*, hip*, in*, stoned*, high*, spaced*...
German Dialects
German Dialects
his book cannot show all the dialect varieties of German colloquialisms, but concentrates on idiomatic language that has been in
use for many years and will most likely continue to be used in German as if it were Hochdeutsch (standard German). However, even
though the use of dialects is not as widespread as it used to be at the beginning of the
20th century, people will never cease to spice
up their standard German with regional expressions. Let’s therefore take a look at some
of the regional dialects:
The north
Another dialect
is Ostfriesisch,
spoken in the
north-west along the
German North Sea coast and islands.
East Frisian uses similar expressions
as in Low Saxon,
therefore I’ll not crowd
you with further examples.
The dominant north-western dialect is Plattdüütsch (Plattdeutsch) and is mostly spoken
in the federal states Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Bremen but also
stretching into Mecklenburg - West Pomerania. In English it’s usually referred to as
Low Saxon or Low German.
In the northern federal states which were
formerly in East Germany (especially in Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony) Säggsch (Sächsisch) is the primary dialect spoken. In English the dialect is called Upper Saxon.
Different again are the dialects in Mecklenburg - West Pomerania, Brandenburg and of
German Dialects
course Berlin. Berlinerisch (Berlinisch) was
voted to be the second most sexy Ger man
dialect in a survey by the German edition of
the magazine Playboy (the most sexy one was
The south
The internationally best known German dialect is surely Bairisch (Bavarian). It’s renowned for being spoken by women in bosomdisplaying Dirndl-dresses and blokes in somewhat kinky Lederhosen (leather pants).
Bavarian is used throughout Southern Germany in large parts of the federal state Bavaria, with the exception of the area around
and north of Nuremberg (Nürnberg), which
is home to Fränkisch. Another variant of Bavarian is also at home in large parts of Austria.
The south-west of Germany on the other
hand hosts Alemannic, or as they call it, Alemannisch. It can be found in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, where it’s called
Badisch, but also in the French Alsace region
(Elsass), where it’s known as Elsässisch. In
the German speaking part of Switzerland it’s
called Schwyzerdütsch (Schweizerdeutsch).
The other dialect of the south-west is
known as Schwäbisch which is used in the
Swabian regions within the federal states of
Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
In Vienna (Wien)
the people speak
the special variant Wienerisch.
German Dialects
The middle
Since the dialects of
Berlin and regions in
North Rhine -Westphalia have such a great influence on modern German idiom in sheer
numbers already (one
fourth of the total population),
I’ve included some regional expressions from
The middle-west offers more than one dialect per federal state, probably because it’s
the most densely populated area of Germany: 18 million people live in North Rhine Westphalia alone (530 persons/km²), speaking Kölsch in Cologne (Köln) and related Ripuarian Franconian dialects along the northern River Rhine from Bonn until the river
disappears into the Netherlands.
The other bit of North Rhine - Westphalia is
dominated by Westfälisch, called Westphalian in English, which is actually more
closely related to Low Saxon again. It is also
the home of coal miner’s German, which is
used in the Ruhrpott along the River Ruhr
between Westphalia and the River Rhine.
This area is the most densely populated region in the whole of Germany at almost 1.200
persons/km²! Not surprisingly newly invented idioms in this area tend to catch on easily in the rest of Germany.
The southern River Rhine region between
Koblenz, the border with Luxemburg and
Mainz on the River Main is home to both
Moselle and Rhenish Franconian. It’s spoken
in the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate
(Rheinland-Pfalz) and Saarland. The dialect is
subsequently called Pfälzisch. Another variant in the area is Hessisch, which is mainly
spoken in the federal state of Hesse with
Frankfurt at its heart.
German Dialects
Some examples in comparison
There are vast differences in greeting one another or expressing basic polite phrases. Since these are crucial to know, you will find the
terms ‘good day’, ‘how are you’, ‘goodbye’,
‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ listed for some German dialects:
Good morning!
Guten Morgen!
all times of day:
all times of day:
all times of day:
all times of day:
Guada Morga!
Good day!
Good evening!
Guten Tag!
Guten Abend!
Moin moin!
Grüaß God! / ‘ß God! / Servus!
Gruezi! / Grüessech!
Sally! / Servus!
Griaß Godd(le)! Gudn Obnd!
There’re certainly quite some differences and
it’s interesting to note that in some dialects,
people prefer to not bother with dif ferent
greetings (depending on the time of day)
even though they could (e.g. in Badisch: Gute Morge! [good morning], Gute Tag! [good day]
and Gute Nobig! [good evening], but they’ll
prefer Sally! and Servus!).
Even more pronounced are the dialect differences, when people embark on a conversation with one another and set out by asking
after the other person’s well-being:
Especially in the north,
as of midday Germans
tend to greet each other
with Mahlzeit!
[mealtime] in a work
situation, even though
no-one may be eating
at the time!
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